Israel to send special envoy to Cairo seeking solution over gas row

AFP , Ahram Online , Tuesday 8 Dec 2015

File Photo: Egypt's Gas Pipeline (Photo: Reuters)

Israel has agreed with the Egyptian government to send an envoy to Cairo to hold talks after Egyptian corporations were ordered to pay $1.76 billion to compensate for a gas supply cut.

"I think we will find a solution because it is in both countries' strategic interests," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday in remarks at a meeting of a parliamentary commission which aired on public radio.

In April 2012, Egypt stopped its gas sales to Israel as per a 20-year deal signed in 2005, following a year of sporadic attacks on the gas pipeline.

Egypt said it would appeal the above-mentioned ruling by the Geneva-based International Chamber of Commerce to compensate the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) and the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG), according to a statement by the petroleum ministry. The Egyptian government ordered the companies importing gas from Israel to freeze all their activities until the matter is settled.

There might be negotiations between the Egyptian Petroleum Company (EGPC), the Egyptian Gas Company (EGAS) and the Israeli companies over a merely commercial conflict, Hamdi Abdel-Aziz, the petroleum ministry’s spokesman, told Ahram Online by phone on Tuesday.

“Even if Israel sent an envoy to negotiate, he will deal with EGPC and EGAS, not the petroleum ministry itself,” Abdel-Aziz said.

Israel had previously relied on Egypt for roughly 40 percent of its gas needs.

In recent years, Israel has been working to exploit major gas discoveries off its coast in the Mediterranean.

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